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Job 17:7-16


17:7 My eyes have grown dim 1  with grief;

my whole frame 2  is but a shadow.

17:8 Upright men are appalled 3  at this;

the innocent man is troubled 4  with the godless.

17:9 But the righteous man holds to his way,

and the one with clean hands grows stronger. 5 

Anticipation of Death

17:10 “But turn, all of you, 6  and come 7  now! 8 

I will not find a wise man among you.

17:11 My days have passed, my plans 9  are shattered,

even 10  the desires 11  of my heart.

17:12 These men 12  change 13  night into day;

they say, 14  ‘The light is near

in the face of darkness.’ 15 

17:13 If 16  I hope for the grave to be my home,

if I spread out my bed in darkness,

17:14 If I cry 17  to corruption, 18  ‘You are my father,’

and to the worm, ‘My Mother,’ or ‘My sister,’

17:15 where then 19  is my hope?

And my hope, 20  who sees it?

17:16 Will 21  it 22  go down to the barred gates 23  of death?

Will 24  we descend 25  together into the dust?”

1 tn See the usage of this verb in Gen 27:1 and Deut 34:7. Usually it is age that causes the failing eyesight, but here it is the grief.

2 tn The word יְצֻרִים (yÿtsurim), here with a suffix, occurs only here in the Bible. The word is related to יָצַר (yatsar, “to form, fashion”). And so Targum Job has “my forms,” and the Vulgate “my members.” The Syriac uses “thoughts” to reflect יֵצֶר (yetser). Some have followed this to interpret, “all my thoughts have dissolved into shadows.” But the parallel with “eye” would suggest “form.” The plural “my forms, all of them” would refer to the whole body.

3 tn This verb שָׁמַם (shamam, “appalled”) is the one found in Isa 52:14, translated there “astonished.”

4 tn The verb means “to rouse oneself to excitement.” It naturally means “to be agitated; to be stirred up.”

5 tn The last two words are the imperfect verb יֹסִיף (yosif) which means “he adds,” and the abstract noun “energy, strength.” This noun is not found elsewhere; its Piel verb occurs in Job 4:4 and 16:5. “he increases strength.”

6 tn The form says “all of them.” Several editors would change it to “all of you,” but the lack of concord is not surprising; the vocative elsewhere uses the third person (see Mic 1:2; see also GKC 441 §135.r).

7 tn The first verb, the jussive, means “to return”; the second verb, the imperative, means “to come.” The two could be taken as a hendiadys, the first verb becoming adverbial: “to come again.”

8 tn Instead of the exact correspondence between coordinate verbs, other combinations occur – here we have a jussive and an imperative (see GKC 386 §120.e).

9 tn This term usually means “plans; devices” in a bad sense, although it can be used of God’s plans (see e.g., Zech 8:15).

10 tn Although not in the Hebrew text, “even” is supplied in the translation, because this line is in apposition to the preceding.

11 tn This word has been linked to the root יָרַשׁ (yarash, “to inherit”) yielding a meaning “the possessions of my heart.” But it is actually to be connected to אָרַשׁ (’arash, “to desire”) cognate to the Akkadian eresu, “desire.” The LXX has “limbs,” which may come from an Aramaic word for “ropes.” An emendation based on the LXX would be risky.

12 tn The verse simply has the plural, “they change.” But since this verse seems to be a description of his friends, a clarification of the referent in the translation is helpful.

13 tn The same verb שִׂים (sim, “set”) is used this way in Isa 5:20: “…who change darkness into light.”

14 tn The rest of the verse makes better sense if it is interpreted as what his friends say.

15 tn This expression is open to alternative translations: (1) It could mean that they say in the face of darkness, “Light is near.” (2) It could also mean “The light is near the darkness” or “The light is nearer than the darkness.”

16 tn The clause begins with אִם (’im) which here has more of the sense of “since.” E. Dhorme (Job, 253) takes a rather rare use of the word to get “Can I hope again” (see also GKC 475 §150.f for the caveat).

17 tn This is understood because the conditional clauses seem to run to the apodosis in v. 15.

18 tn The word שַׁחַת (shakhat) may be the word “corruption” from a root שָׁחַת (shakhat, “to destroy”) or a word “pit” from שׁוּחַ (shuakh, “to sink down”). The same problem surfaces in Ps 16:10, where it is parallel to “Sheol.” E. F. Sutcliffe, The Old Testament and the Future Life, 76ff., defends the meaning “corruption.” But many commentators here take it to mean “the grave” in harmony with “Sheol.” But in this verse “worms” would suggest “corruption” is better.

19 tn The adverb אֵפוֹ (’efo, “then”) plays an enclitic role here (see Job 4:7).

20 tn The repetition of “my hope” in the verse has thrown the versions off, and their translations have led commentators also to change the second one to something like “goodness,” on the assumption that a word cannot be repeated in the same verse. The word actually carries two different senses here. The first would be the basic meaning “hope,” but the second a metonymy of cause, namely, what hope produces, what will be seen.

21 sn It is natural to assume that this verse continues the interrogative clause of the preceding verse.

22 tn The plural form of the verb probably refers to the two words, or the two senses of the word in the preceding verse. Hope and what it produces will perish with Job.

23 tn The Hebrew word בַּדִּים (baddim) describes the “bars” or “bolts” of Sheol, referring (by synecdoche) to the “gates of Sheol.” The LXX has “with me to Sheol,” and many adopt that as “by my side.”

24 tn The conjunction אִם (’im) confirms the interrogative interpretation.

25 tn The translation follows the LXX and the Syriac versions with the change of vocalization in the MT. The MT has the noun “rest,” yielding, “will our rest be together in the dust?” The verb נָחַת (nakhat) in Aramaic means “to go down; to descend.” If that is the preferred reading – and it almost is universally accepted here – then it would be spelled נֵחַת (nekhat). In either case the point of the verse is clearly describing death and going to the grave.

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